United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
HONORABLE ERIN L. SETSER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Jimmy Dale Hardcastle, brings this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §405(g), seeking judicial review of a decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(Commissioner) denying his claim for a period of disability
and disability insurance benefits (DIB) under the provisions
of Title II of the Social Security Act (Act). In this
judicial review, the Court must determine whether there is
substantial evidence in the administrative record to support
the Commissioner's decision. See 42 U.S.C.
protectively filed his application for DIB on May 30, 2013,
alleging an inability to work since October 1, 2012,
to light headedness from heart palpitations and left shoulder
pain. (Tr. 121-127, 164, 176). An administrative hearing was
held on August 21, 2014, at which Plaintiff appeared with
counsel and testified. (Tr. 21-48).
written decision dated November 7, 2014, the ALJ found that
during the relevant time period (January 1, 2013 through
November 7, 2014), Plaintiff had an impairment or combination
of impairments that were severe - cardiac arrhythmia and
status post ablation. (Tr. 12). However, after reviewing all
of the evidence presented, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or equal the level
of severity of any impairment listed in the Listing of
Impairments found in Appendix I, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4.
(Tr. 12). The ALJ found Plaintiff retained the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to perform light work as defined in
20 C.F.R. §404.1567(b) with the following additional
limitation: must avoid working around unprotected heights and
climbing ladders. (Tr. 13). With the help of the vocational
expert (VE), the ALJ determined that during the relevant time
period, Plaintiff would not be able to perform his past
relevant work, but there were other jobs he would be able to
perform, such as meter reader, utilities, gate guard, and
cashier. (Tr. 14-15).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on May 19, 2015.
(Tr. 1-4). Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc.
1). This case is before the undersigned pursuant to the
consent of the parties. (Doc. 7). Both parties have filed
appeal briefs, and the case is now ready for decision. (Docs.
Court has reviewed the entire transcript. The complete set of
facts and arguments are presented in the parties' briefs,
and are repeated here only to the extent necessary.
Court's role is to determine whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole. Ramirez v.
Barnhart, 292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002).
Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance but it is
enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to
support the Commissioner's decision. The ALJ's
decision must be affirmed if the record contains substantial
evidence to support it. Edwards v. Barnhart, 314
F.3d 964, 966 (8th Cir. 2003). As long as there is
substantial evidence in the record that supports the
Commissioner's decision, the Court may not reverse it
simply because substantial evidence exists in the record that
would have supported a contrary outcome, or because the Court
would have decided the case differently. Haley v.
Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir. 2001).
In other words, if after reviewing the record, it is possible
to draw two inconsistent positions from the evidence and one
of those positions represents the findings of the ALJ, the
decision of the ALJ must be affirmed. Young v.
Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065, 1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
well established that a claimant for Social Security
disability benefits has the burden of proving his disability
by establishing a physical or mental disability that has
lasted at least one year and that prevents him from engaging
in any substantial gainful activity. Pearsall v.
Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir.
2001); see also 42 U.S.C. §423(d)(1)(A). The
Act defines "physical or mental impairment" as
"an impairment that results from anatomical,
physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are
demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques." 42 U.S.C. §§423(d)(3).
A Plaintiff must show that his disability, not simply his
impairment, has lasted for at least twelve consecutive
Commissioner's regulations require him to apply a
five-step sequential evaluation process to each claim for
disability benefits: (1) whether the claimant had engaged in
substantial gainful activity since filing his claim; (2)
whether the claimant had a severe physical and/or mental
impairment or combination of impairments; (3) whether the
impairment(s) met or equaled an impairment in the listings;
(4) whether the impairment(s) prevented the claimant from
doing past relevant work; and (5) whether the claimant was
able to perform other work in the national economy given his
age, education, and experience. See 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520 Only if the final stage is reached does the fact
finder consider the Plaintiff's age, education, and work
experience in light of his RFC. See McCoy v.
Schneider, 683 F.2d 1138, 1141-42 (8th Cir.
1982); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520, abrogated on other
grounds by Higgins v. Apfel, 222 F.3d 504, 505 (8th Cir.
2000); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520.
raises the following issues in this matter: 1) The ALJ erred
in failing to consider all of Plaintiff's impairments in
combination; 2) The ALJ erred in his credibility analysis; 3)
The ALJ erred in his RFC determination; and 4) The ALJ erred
in failing to fully and fairly develop the medical record.